Safely returned from a five-day “taste” of the Camino de Santiago de Campostela, there are two phrases that have stuck in my mind.
The first is, “It’s your Camino.” Here are some of the distinguishing features of our Camino trip.
- We walked parts of the Portuguese Camino, the oldest route, but not the one most people think of.
- We went with a tour group which meant comfortable hotels and good, reliable meals, not hostels with bunk beds.
- We had “options” — no need to press onward to reach the next destination because there was always the van to pick you up and take you to that night’s lodgings if the hiking was too much.
- We had a gaggle of women (and I mean that quite complimentary!) who walked and chatted and shopped and . . . bonded over small and big things.
- We talked about the obvious and the metaphysical.
In and amongst all of this, “It’s your Camino” meant that it was always your choice how you walked it. Long, short, fast, slow, quiet, talking, taking mental pictures, taking physical pictures, in boots, in tennis shoes, with rain gear, without rain gear.
I thought a lot about how my “how” has changed over the years. I went backpacking about 25 years ago, and spent one of the 9 days at the front, right behind the leader. In looking back, I’m not sure what I thought I was going to achieve by doing that, but it was a consistent pattern in my life. In the end, we all arrived at the same destination, but “sooner” was the imperative for me.
On the Camino, one day I started at the front and kept a pace that had my thighs quaking by the time the day was done. It was also the only day that I hiked the longest possible distance and spent it mostly in conversation. On the rest of the days, I found my own pace, often hanging back with my Mom. I had a better opportunity to take in and embrace everything that was around us. And I felt more like a pilgrim on a journey–one of a pair like the disciples that Jesus sent forth, two by two.
It’s still my Camino, my journey, even as I sit at my desk, working through email, solving problems, moving programs forward. So, the big question is, how do I want to walk the journey of my personal, spiritual, and work life? What are the choices that I want to make?
What is your “Camino” like?